Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Heavenly Week

I ask you, what could possibly beat this view?

From Tahoe 2008 an...

Now you know how Heavenly got it's name, eh?

As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed my week-long stay with family and friends at the Heavenly Valley Townhouses, a short walk from the California base of Heavenly. Mainstays Cherif, Kate, and Susan H joined me and my parents at the condos. I took my once-yearly ski lesson with Bob Haas early in the week and spent the rest of my time on the slopes working on improving - ok, maintaining - my modest ski form. I have to say that despite over two decades of skiing, it's only been over the past three years, joining the crew at Heavenly, that I've become a real enthusiast. It also helps that for once in my life I was skiing on my very own equipment. Speaking of which...

Countless hours of my precious vacation were spent dealing with my infamous "boot problem." You see, back in May I had thought I was so smart and competent and had gone out to buy cheap off-season boots at REI. After the first day of skiing, though, I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong. By the second day I was in so much pain I had to cut my day short. I then went in desperation to Powderhouse to see Jeff, a master boot fitter. We spent two hours together fitting a boot: taking measurements, cutting out a footbed, inserting heel lifts, and grinding down the padding on the tongue (the last three things solely because I have an incredibly tight plantar ligament in the arch of my foot - Jeff called it the symptom of a "very intense" person!). The next day I went in for another couple hours to have a custom footbed made. Finally on the day after that I went in for a heel wrap. Total cost of the new boots & custom footbed: $470. Cost of old shitty REI boots: $249. How much I would have paid for the new boots after having skied for two horrid days on the old boots: $1,000,000. What I learned about the experience (useful only for other skiers, but essential for them!):
  • When you first put on the boots, your toes should be squished against the end. When you buckle in, your toes should be just brushing the end. The boot should feel on your foot like a firm handshake feels on your hand.
  • Unless you're a super regular skier with lots of experience buying boots, use a boot fitter! Again, use a boot fitter. It's not just important, it's absolutely necessary.
More pictures from the week:

Me and the lake and me and Cherif

Newly engaged couple Kate and Tyronne with my 4 year-old cousin Audrey

Audrey plays animal charades. Any guess at what she is here? (Hint: it smells!) (we were laughing soooooo hard...)

Evan and Audrey give the "evil eye"

I can't help it - another gorgeous view.

Until next year, dear Tahoe!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Farewell 2007

Thank goodness for my awesome friends. They really know how to have a good time. When it came time to consider plans for New Year's Eve, Jamie and Kevin were quick to appear with a most tantalizing offer: four days at the Mutton Top PATC cabin, far from civilization and cushy amenities like running water but stock full of natural beauty, peace and quiet, gourmet food, booze, and low-tech games. We spent the days chopping wood, cooking, eating, cleaning up after the cooking and eating, reading, hiking, and hanging out. For the New Year's celebration, Jon and I dressed up in ironic evening wear, champagne flowed, and Linny counted us down with the help of Jeff's GPS (our source of "real time"). 2008 was welcomed in with 16 pairs of very happy open arms (and several roman candles and bottle rockets).

Our glorious home-away-from-home:

Two substantial activities over the weekend: cutting and cooking.

A hike in the Shenandoah on New Year's Eve Day lead us past countless beautiful waterfalls:

Finally, it's New Year's Eve! After getting cosy by the fire:
Jon and I proceed to get fancier than any Mutton Top guest has ever gotten:

Time for the countdown! 5, 4, 3, 2...

1! A Hollywood-glamorous kiss starts the New Year off on the right foot.

But soon it's time for bed, foursome-style:

Farewell 2007! 2008 will beat the crap out of you fo sho.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Green Christmas in Old St. Aug

From Xmas Weekend in St. Augustine ...

Since I had a long weekend over Christmas, I decided to spend a couple days in the warmth of Florida, exploring the city of St. Augustine. While the weather was mild and the town lovely, the best part of the trip was hanging out with fellow travelers at the Pirate Haus Hostel (see picture of me with Dietmar and Staci above). We tooled around together during the day and then celebrated Christmas Eve with a giant, chaotic, schizo dinner buffet-feast followed by an outing to a local dive bar. Hostels are just great. I also got clued into Couch Surfing, which I may very well try out myself one of these days.